American Journal of Dance Therapy

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 37–45 | Cite as

Treating psychogenic somatic disorders through body metaphor

  • Linni J. Silberman-Deihl
  • Barry R. Komisaruk
Article

Abstract

The present study provides evidence that psychogenic somatic manifestations can be best understood as a form of nonverbal communication. The somatic manifestations described in this study can be viewed as body metaphors (i.e., bodily expressions) of specific feelings that the clients are initially unable or unwilling to express verbally. The manifestations often appear to be metaphors expressed in terms of body movement, posture, pain or restriction of movement or feelings. Certain covert visceral manifestations are in some instances associated with these overt musculoskeletal metaphors. In response to the therapy described in the present study, the clients eventually express their feelings verbally, thereby both elucidating the symbolic meaning of the somatic manifestations and gaining a new, adult perspective on the basis for their feelings. This process facilitates their relinquishing of these manifestations. Through reinterpretation of the musculoskeletal metaphors, the visceral manifestations may also be ameliorated via normal visceral, somatic, integrative routes. The main elements of the therapeutic method can be characterized as follows:expression / exaggeration / regression / reinterpretation / adaptive integration.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bernstein, P. L. (1980). A mythological quest: Jungian movement therapy with the psychosomatic client.American Journal of Dance Therapy, 3, 44–45.Google Scholar
  2. Booth, G. C. (1937). Personality and chronic arthritis.J. Nerv. Ment. Dis., 85, 637–662.Google Scholar
  3. Chace, M. (1975). Dance as an adjunctive therapy with hospitalized mental patients. In H. Chaiklin (Ed.),Marion Chace: Her Papers. Columbia, MD: American Dance Therapy Association, 70–71.Google Scholar
  4. Dilts, R., Grinder, J., Bandler, R., Bandler, L., & DeLozier, J. (1980).Neuro-Linguistic Programming Vol. 1: Study of the Structure of Subjective Experience. Cupertino, CA: Meta Publishing Co., 83.Google Scholar
  5. Dunbar, F. (1946).Emotions and Bodily Changes, 3rd ed. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Engel, G. L. (1968). A reconsideration of the role of conversion in somatic disease.Compr. Psychiatry, 9, 316–326.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Freud, S. (1925, 1960 edition).A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis. New York: Washington Square Press, 333–334.Google Scholar
  8. Freud, S. (1900, 1965 edition).The Interpretation of Dreams. New York: Avon.Google Scholar
  9. Komisaruk, B. R. (1982). Visceral-somatic integration in behavior, cognition, and “psychosomatic” disease.Advances in the Study of Behavior, 12, 107–140.Google Scholar
  10. Lowen, A. (1976).Biogenergetics. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  11. Onions, C. T. (Ed.) (1966).The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Reich, W. (1942).The Discovery of the Orgone—the Function of the Orgasm. New York: Noonday.Google Scholar
  13. Schwartz, G. E., Fair, P. L., Salt, P., Mandel, M. R., & Klerman, G. L. (1976). Facial muscle patterning to affective imagery in depressed and non-depressed subjects.Science, 192, 489–491.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Silberman, L. (1973). A dance therapist's experience working with disturbed adolescent boys in a city prison hospital. Proc. 8th Ann. Conf. Amer. Dance Ther. Assoc., Overland Park, KS: 63–75.Google Scholar
  15. Sledge, W. H. (1977). The therapist's use of metaphor.Int'l. J. Psychoanal. Psychother., 6, 113–130.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© American Dance Therapy Association, Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linni J. Silberman-Deihl
    • 1
  • Barry R. Komisaruk
    • 2
  1. 1.Private PracticeNew York City and Quogue
  2. 2.Institute of Animal BehaviorRutgers UniversityNewark

Personalised recommendations